The NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq (NCCI) core task is coordination between NGOs operating in Iraq, which also includes facilitating contact between NGOs and the UN agencies operating in country. In an attempt to bridge the gap between local NGOs and the UN, NCCI facilitated a meeting with UNAMI representatives and local NGOs in its Erbil office on 13 December. UNAMI is the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a political mission which is mandated to advise and assist the Iraqi government on issues including political dialogue, national reconciliation, human rights, humanitarian coordination and economic reform.
UNAMI’s main objective for the meeting was to gain a more holistic understanding of the situation in Iraq from the perspective of Iraqi civil society and national NGO actors, including their view on expected developments and how local actors see the UN’s role in supporting this. For local NGOs this meeting was a great opportunity to meet a high ranking UN official and voice their concerns and suggestions directly.
The meeting started with one of the NGO attendants presenting an assessment about the humanitarian situation in IS controlled territories and liberated areas, focusing on needs before, during and after the liberation of these areas. The need for effective peace building beyond a purely military approach to avoid sectarian tensions and vengeance attacks after the liberation was especially stressed. During the discussion attendants reached out to each other to come up with ways to establish or improve cooperation between NGOs and the UN.
The second topic of the meeting was the relation between local NGOs, international NGOs and the UN in Iraq. The attendants mentioned the gap that seemingly exists between local NGOs on one hand and international NGOs and UN agencies on the other, and discussed ways to come to a true partnership between the two sides. The participants concluded that combining the field knowledge of local NGOs with the experience of international organizations would improve the humanitarian response in Iraq as a whole.
Concluding the meeting the participants agreed to establish more regular contact between local NGOs and the UN in Iraq.